TIAA-CREF is hoping to boost investment in farmland through better data. To that end, the New York-based investment money management firm is launching the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research at the University of Illinois, Champaign.
The center will conduct research and host academic symposiums focusing on farmland prices and the factors that go into these prices, including commodities and taxes, as well as the financial side of farm management, Paul Ellinger, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, said in an interview.
“We know there is an appetite for (farmland investment), said Heather Davis, a senior managing director and head of TIAA-CREF's global private fixed-income and equity investments.
In May, the firm and a number of institutional investors closed on $2 billion for farmland investments in the U.S., Australia and Brazil through a new company, TIAA-CREF Global Agriculture LLC. Institutional investors included the 241.5 billion Swedish kronor ($37.8 billion) AP2, the C$176.2 billion (US$ 172.8 billion) Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and the C$86.9 billion British Columbia Investment Management Corp.
“The stumbling block we experienced (to attracting more investors) is lack of data in a way institutions like to receive it and the kind of information they need to make decisions,” Ms. Davis said.